People are not happy. There is a lot of uncertainty in Ontario’s renewable energy market right now, uncertainty that has been slowly manifesting into frustration for project proponents. The first and foremost reason for this uncertainty is the inability to get projects connected to the local distribution grid. The issue here, in some instances anyway, seems to be limits on the amount of micro-generation (< 10kW) that can be connected to a portion of the local distribution grid. For example, Hydro One invokes a limit of 7% of the total annual load on a line section, read more here at section 5.3.2. This limit has left countless project proponents waiting it what seems to be a never ending queue. Adding to the frustration of these proponents and Hydro One customers is the fact that other distribution companies, for example Toronto Hydro, don’t even have a limit for the amount of micro-generation that can be connected.

Another key issue causing delays in connecting projects are legitimate infrastructure deficiencies – i.e. the grid doesn’t physically have the thermal or short circuit capacity to handle all this new distributed generation that the FIT and MicroFIT programs have stirred up. This shouldn’t have been a shock to government or those in the industry. The government’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program identified these issues years ago, read here.

What is compounding these issues is the fact that eager salespeople have been pushing solar PV panels and grid-tied inverters, using the incitement of the MicroFIT payouts, without properly disclosing or advising their clients on the risks and uncertainties associated with getting into the MicroFIT program and obtaining a lucrative 20 year MicroFIT contract.

So what we have is a large amount of prospective project proponents that have made a significant investment in solar PV equipment and left by their salesperson, holding the bag. Waiting for a connection, in some instances that will never happen, while tens of thousands of dollars in equipment gets rusty in a field or on a roof.

From some of my other posts, I am adamant that all this wasted investment could have been avoided with a trip to a real professional before such large projects were undertaken. Installers say… “You don’t need a lawyer. Its a standard form contract!”. Well so is a mortgage. What is really frustrating here is not that investors didn’t seek legal advice, they relied on people that held themselves out as ‘experts’. No, what is frustrating is the con that has and continues to happen. Companies selling complete solar PV projects, using the MicroFIT program to lure unsuspecting investors in, and then ignoring or intentionally neglecting the fact that actually getting a MicroFIT contract is never guaranteed. From the cases I’ve seen, that is almost always the case. No disclaimers. No caveats. No discussion whatsoever on the uncertainties that exist when trying to actually make the money that these salespeople promise.

The lawsuits have begun. If you’ve been caught, if you have an investment in a renewable energy project that is wasting away because you were led to believe that a MicroFIT contract is all but inevitable, visit and talk to a lawyer about your options.


One thought on “microfit lawsuits

  1. its the account requirement that kills me – if im generating my own power, why does the utility company charge the distribution/delivery/debt reduction + account fee, etc.? They require you to pay this to be tied into a microFIT. For small rural residents – that’s a further $70+ uncapped a month of kWh I would need to generate and receive payments for it to be viable, and this doesnt include the risk of that cost increasing over the 20 year term. In reality that’s a few thousand dollars in panels I would need and an ever increasing +35% off the capped max I could earn – compared to going off-grid assuming a fixed or uncapped net account cost, I would pay it off quicker with less risk.

    I think going off grid makes more sense than microfit if you are on a rural rate, or dont have the capital or space for a larger FIT project….

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